Guidance on travel between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has been published, including for the Christmas period, summary:
Between Wales & England
The First Minister, Mark Drakeford has stated that whilst travel between Wales and areas of the UK with high rates of coronavirus will not be allowed, travel will be allowed from Tier 1 & 2 (from 6pm, 4/12/2020). Drakeford said the travel restrictions “will be kept under constant review”, International travel restrictions will also continue in place until at least January and are also to “be kept under constant review”.
The relevant section from The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 4) (Wales) Regulations 2020 details the changes to Part 2 section 9 that covers “Restriction on travel to and from Wales” in the current regulations:
The Competition and Markets Authority issues a press statement today saying that it has reached an agreement with Lastminute.com that it will pay £7m to customers for cancelled holidays as part of their broader investigation on suspected breaches of consumer protection law in the package holiday sector.
The UK Government has opened the visa application process for people wanting to come to and work in the UK under the new points based system, including the Skilled Worker route which will be the route on most relevance to tourism businesses. Under the new Skilled Worker route, anyone coming to the UK to work will need to demonstrate that they have a job offer from a Home Office-licensed sponsor at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent). Anyone you hire from outside the UK needs to speak English to the required standard and their job is required to meet the applicable minimum salary threshold.
Link to the online application portal.
Firstly, it is worth noting that phases 1 and 2 of the Wales-only ERF saw 13,111 businesses awarded over £290m and the ERF Phase 3 has so far seen a total of over 35,000 businesses offered over £106m to date. To date 80% of ERF (all phases) recipients have been Micro businesses. However, whilst very welcome, it is disappointing that this round of funding will not reach businesses until January 2021.
ERF Restrictions Business Fund: The ERF Restrictions Business Fund will provide the following financial assistance:
How to access the ERF Restrictions Fund:
Businesses must be on the non-domestic rates (NDR) rating list for their local authority on 1 September. Hospitality businesses who received the Lockdown Business Grant in October via their Local Authority will begin receiving payments via the ERF Restriction Fund into their back account during December. These businesses will not be required to re-register their details. For all other eligible businesses to receive any of the ERF Restrictions Fund, businesses will need to register their details, as well as making a short on-line application to their respective local authority for the discretionary elements. These payments will start to reach businesses in January.
Businesses will be able to access the registration and application process to access the funding through the Business Wales and Local Authority websites. Further details on the process will be published by Business Wales shortly.
ERF Restrictions Discretionary Grant
This guidance will be kept under review.
• All hospitality settings, including restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars can open indoors and outdoors for the consumption of food and non-alcoholic drinks but must close by 18:00. Alcoholic drinks cannot be served or consumed at any time within these premises and this will be strictly enforced.
• Hotels and other accommodation providers can remain open and can serve food and non-alcoholic drinks in bar/restaurant areas within their premises up to 22:00 to residents, but must close by 18:00 to non-residents.
• Residents in hotels and other accommodation can order food and drink at any time for consumption in their own rooms, but this must not include alcohol after 22:00 and before 06:00 the next day.
• Takeaway services can still sell food and drinks for consumption off the premises, with no alcohol sales after 22:00. Premises with a license for off-sales can continue to sell alcohol until 22:00 as part of the takeaway offer.
• For bookings made for weddings and civil partnership receptions and funeral wakes before 30 November at licensed venues, non-residents and residents can remain until 22:00 for food and non-alcoholic drinks. For those booked after 30 November the venue must close by 18:00 to non-residents.
• All settings must keep in place measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus in their venues. For example: Controlled entry, with pre-booking where possible and keeping the number of walkups to a minimum. Table Service, with all food and drink ordered, served and consumed at the table. Payment should be taken at the table wherever possible. Physical distancing measures must be applied, such as tables being spaced out. Groups of up to 4 people (not including any children aged under 11 or a carer of someone in the group) can meet in a hospitality setting.
Single households are permitted to gather in groups of larger than four, but evidence that they are from the same household must be verified by the premises. Face coverings must be worn by staff and customers, other than when seated to eat or drink.
Contact details (name, phone number, date and time of arrival and departure) must be collected and retained for 21 days to support the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service. In all premises customers are required to provide verification of their name when filling in contact details. Information on the package of support for the hospitality sector is available here : https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/
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The 'Four Nations' approach to the festive season announced on 24th November does currently (26/11/2020) leave us in Wales with any clear guidance. Arguably, this is too late for many competing for business from over the border. As regards guidance on what restrictions will be in place for ‘Christmas bubbles’ in Wales again there is none at present. The next Welsh Government review is scheduled for the 3rd December, the date when England comes out of their lockdown, we hope to hear clarification for Christmas along with the update on whether there will be a reintroduction of travel restrictions for people travelling from high incident areas into Wales.
For information: England has conversely published guidance for the five day festive period (23rd – 27th December) where, if you form a 3 household ‘Christmas bubble’, you can visit each other’s homes and stay overnight in private rented accommodation, but you cannot meet your ‘Christmas bubble’ in any other indoor settings (e.g. pubs, restaurants, theatres etc) and all of these rules will still be dependent upon the English Tier system to be announced today. Whilst we understand our member businesses frustration, rest assured we are in regular contact with the Welsh Government and continue to lobby for support and clarity of guidance and regulation. If member businesses are taking bookings from outside of Wales over the Christmas period then you need to do so with a great deal of caution and to be mindful that the position in Wales has not yet been confirmed.
The UK Government has published the guidance for the extended CJRS. The guidance is an updated version of the original guidance with details of how to claim for periods after 1 November 2020. Of particular note is the reference period for calculating claims prior to 18th March 2020 for people who were employed before this date. So if employees have taken cuts in hours or pay during since 19th March, this will not impact on their furlough pay. Some of the key points are:
Check Which Employees Can Be Furloughed: There is separate guidance detailing how the employment status of workers impacts on a businesses ability to furlough them. Some of the key points here are:
Questions raised by the industry following the First Minister’s and Prime Minister’s announcements on the (30/10/20).
JRS/JRR: It looks like the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which was meant to end yesterday and be replaced by the Job Support Scheme today, will now remain in place until December, with the terms of the scheme reverting to the Scheme as it was in August – i.e., employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 and businesses paying for NI and pension contributions. We assume this now applies in Wales. i.e. we will be sticking with the old scheme. Therefore, will businesses be able to continue to Furlough staff in parity with the English lockdown?
Yes. The main issue that WG has had is that UK Government refused to backdate this – or the JSS – to reflect our firebreak in Wales. However, businesses in Wales will be able to access the scheme – and their ability to do so does not mean having to be fully closed according to the regulations, or in general.
ERF Phase 3 Business Development Grant: As we know you have, we have received many dissatisfied and unhappy comments from businesses about missing out on the fund and in particular comments about the process by those who feel disadvantaged by their lack of human resource; rural bandwidth; etc. and the ‘the first come first served’ aspect. We would welcome time put aside to discuss this with Rhydian at our Friday meeting. Plus whilst we realise that due to the high demand, the ERF fund has been suspended while applications received are processed. However, it is obvious that it has been heavily oversubscribed, therefore will there be further funds available beyond this round? We are aware of the issues and businesses that were already registered on the system have been provided with an extension to fully submit all their paperwork.
The Welsh Government will be providing an opportunity for businesses to provide an Expression of Interest in the scheme, should it be re-opened in future and sharing the details of this process asap.
Wales Consequential: Wales receives by far the larger proportion of its business from the rest of the UK (coupled to overseas) and as of the 9th November, while some Wales tourism businesses will be ‘open’ under restrictions, the actual business they will be able to take with England will be virtually nil, does this mean that Wales will not receive a consequential Barnett formula payment and therefore any further Wales business compensation? Just a point really, we think if you cannot answer the above or simply that there is no more money then I think Government needs to come clean and say that is it. It is better than potentially stringing businesses along that they are going to receive further bailouts? Wales receives a consequential of new or additional spend on public services in England or other parts of the UK– unless I’ve misunderstood, it means that we do not get compensated for this kind of decision unless other parts of the UK receive additional public funds as a result of it I’m afraid.
Community Hostility: We would also like to flag up the possible concerns about heightened community hostility against second home owners who may return to Wales to avoid the one month shutdown. Will there be enforcement brought against them (local authorities should have records of who the second home owners are). England will lockdown on Thursday, and we will re-open on Monday so there is an overlap that should prevent individuals from travelling into Wales for this purpose.
The Welsh Government will publish robust Guidance to ensure that this is discouraged and it will be enforced to a point – within the capacity of the current system.
he Chancellor has announced changes to the Job Support Scheme which will provide further support for Businesses impacted by Coronavirus. The original JSS saw employers paying a third of their employees’ wages for hours not worked, and required employers to be working 33% of their normal hours. Today’s announcement changes this by:
Other key elements are: